Last Friday, Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), Senator Russ Feingold (WI), Senator Jim Webb (VA), and Senator Mark Begich (AK) introduced the Cell Phone Early Termination Fee, Transparency and Fairness Act. I remember hearing Senator Klobuchar talk about this early on and mentioning that when it comes to technology this is one issue where she gets a lot of calls from people all over the state.
According to Klobuchar’s web site, the new bill would:
- Prevent wireless carriers from charging an ETF that is higher than the discount on the cell phone that the wireless company offers consumers for entering into a multi-year contract. For example, if a wireless consumer enters into a 2-year contract and receives a $150 discount with the contract, the ETF cannot exceed $150.
- Require wireless carriers to pro-rate their ETFs for consumers who leave their contracts early so that the ETF for a two-year contract would be reduced by half after one year and pro-rated down to zero by the end of a contract term.
- Require wireless carriers to provide “clear and conspicuous disclosure” of the ETF at the time of purchase.
- Require monthly billing statements to clearly state the pro-rated fee customers would be charged if they terminate their contracts before the end of the next billing cycle.